Aurelia cried at birth like all babies, but her cry remained in the doctor’s memory until the day he died. He said that he had never heard or heard again in his life a way of crying more pitiful than Aurelia’s, as if she brought with her all the misfortunes and knew from the first day of her birth that in the world there would be nothing easy for her.
Aurelia was given up for adoption from that day on because her parents couldn’t take care of her, although she was a pretty girl and behaved politely in the orphanage. They always chose others over her, so she lived from orphanage to orphanage until she became an adult. Of course, during all that time, young Aurelia had suffered from various illnesses due to overwork.
When she could no longer stay at the orphanage, she was forced to go out into a world she didn’t know how to cope with. For this reason, the following years were a chain of tireless work in exchange for meager food and a shack where she had no protection of any kind. From time to time, men arrived who paid her a little more for her company but left her as empty and devastated as before. As a result of these encounters, Aurelia became pregnant three times, although none of her pregnancies were successful because she lost them spontaneously due to overexertion.
Every morning, Aurelia wondered when she woke up what was her reason to continue living. She only knew that the only valuable thing she had was her heart, that she would know how to endure whatever her destiny had in store for her, that she would make it to the end of her life without trying to skip the pain. Her only hope was that the reward for her suffering would come someday, even if it was not in life, she would receive it in the afterlife or in her next life if reincarnation existed.
There was no one as strong as Aurelia, even though no one noticed, and she was constantly belittled. The years passed without anything that gave her a minimum of satisfaction. But despite the passage of time and the expression lines that began to be marked, she felt as young and vital as when she was young. Now she was 50 years old.
By that time, she had given up hope of knowing what others called love and settled for the idea that happiness would not come in her lifetime. But she still trusted that it would come. Since then, she dreamed of finding the kingdom of heaven and resting at last, welcomed by the angels who would gather her in their lap and give her the comfort she needed so much.
Aurelia grew old without comfort, without happiness, and without anything, only with two dogs that followed her everywhere, who seemed to be as old as she was. She worked at whatever she could as always, going down to the river under the bridge every day to wash herself until one time, things were different.
That day, she took a wrong step and fell into a mud hole, into which she began to sink rapidly without being able to do anything to avoid it. Aurelia had lived a life of hardship. Her 92 years had been so fraught with suffering, and when she sank into the mud, she simply let go. She felt that death was her rest and was at peace with the thought that her time to go had finally come.
Aurelia did not count on her two dogs, those who had been close to her for so long, to come to her aid. These dogs never went down to the river because they had been afraid of the water for a long time, perhaps because of the mistreatment they had suffered in their youth. However, now that they were a couple of old dogs but very faithful, they did not hesitate to come to the aid of their friend.
Before she knew it, Aurelia found herself clutched arm-in-arm by the dogs who were desperately trying to keep her from sinking. It was then that people passing by the bridge realized what was happening below. At first, they thought that the dogs were trying to devour some dead animal. But when they got closer and saw that it was a person, they were shocked by the terrible scene.
Poor Aurelia opened her eyes and looked at them, and everyone started screaming. One woman fainted. Everyone thought the dogs were attacking her, not knowing yet that she was alive. As they tore her apart terrified them, Aurelia realized that they were going to hurt the dogs. For this reason, she found the strength to talk and tell them that the dogs, contrary to what they thought, were trying to save her because she had fallen into the mud hole, and the more she moved, the deeper she sank.
That was how, between all of them, they managed to pull her out in a few seconds and bring the old woman to safety. She was exhausted and fainted. She had been struggling all her life, but only now her body began to give up. She was taken to the hospital and stayed there for a few days until she recovered. But the reality was that Aurelia no longer had the strength to return to the street after having been so close to death. She simply could not conceive of herself begging again or enduring the disdain of others.
That was why the day she was to be discharged, she decided that she would leave that city, that she would look for her dogs, and walk with them as far as her legs would carry her. Just until her body would not give out anymore. And then she would look for a placid corner in the middle of nature where she would wait for her death, which she felt was near.
As she was already thinking about where the dogs would be, when she found them at the entrance of the hospital, they were waiting for her. They had not been allowed to enter those days, but the dogs had not given up and had waited for her there. Tears rolled down Aurelia’s cheeks when she saw them, and she couldn’t believe what happened.
Moments later, her beloved dogs were not the only ones waiting for her outside. There were also several of the people who had helped them to get out of the swamp. They were ready to offer Aurelia an opportunity to live her old age with dignity, as she had always wanted, surrounded by nature.
One of them had a small farm where they only went on weekends, and where a full-time live-in would suit her very well, even more so for someone like her who knew how to make the most of her surroundings. The others were willing to help with groceries and whatever was needed to make the old lady comfortable.
Aurelia was so amazed that she pinched herself to see if it was real. But when she saw herself in that farm and realized that she would really live in the country with her dogs, she understood for the first time in her life what happiness was. She had had to wait 92 years for her dreams to come true. She now looked like a little girl with a new toy.
Although her body no longer performed as well as it had 50 years before, every day, she gave her best to put her terror to it, growing flowers and fruit, and watching her dogs who, like her, enjoyed the countryside with the last of their strength left but happy.
The last five years of her life, Aurelia could finally say that she was happy. That was her only opportunity to appreciate beauty, to feel peace, and to know what it was to live without worrying about tomorrow because she had everything. And although five years of joy could not compare with 92 years of suffering, Aurelia was grateful for not having died that day in the river. She would not have been able to spend those five wonderful years that, for her, were reward enough for all that she had suffered.
When she finally departed from the world, her dogs accompanied her. Soon after, for they had lived until then only for her, but they were also too old now. The three of them rested together under a leafy tree on Aurelia’s favorite hill. And there are still those who remember their story with love and hope.